Best Format for a Blog Post, Article, or Tutorial?

Today I was looking for guidelines for formatting blog post and came across an article by Scott Mitchell titled “What’s the Best Way to Format a Title for a Blog Post, Article, or Tutorial?”.  In the post he gives 4 options for a title of a post on “Grouping Data using the ASP .NET ListView Control”.  I started typing a reply to his post but thought it would be a good idea to blog my thoughts on this to continue the conversation and document my thoughts in a place I can easily find ;-).  Yeah, sometimes I blog about stuff as much for myself as I do for others.  You see I have a very bad memory and my blog is also my online knowledge base, but I digress.

So how does one determine a good title for a blog post, article, or tutorial? 
This is especially difficult with all the competition for site traffic and search engine optimization worries out there.  I just want to worry about the content of my post and not so much about the ranking of it, but to make sure those that need to find my solution can, we have to put some thought into it. 

So here are my simple guidelines for selecting titles for my content.

  • Go to your favorite search engine and pretend you are looking for your article, what do you search on?   Write down the keyword you use.  Continue to do a few other searches pretending that your first did not return what you where looking for.  Write those down as well.  Once you have identified the 1-5 key words that would return what you are looking for see if you can make a title out of it.  Usually you can just put those words together and you have it.  Using Scott’s example my choice was “Grouping Data using the ASP .NET ListView control” because if I were looking for info on this topic I would have searched for the keywords Grouping, ListView, and  “ASP .NET”.  Possibly adding C# if I got a bunch of VB .NET results first ;-).

 

  • If you are posting on a solution to an error, such as “(407) Proxy Authentication Required”, use that at the title. Because we usually just copy and post the error message when looking for solution like this.

Well, there you have it, not very sophisticated but it works for me.  Thanks to Scott Mitchell for asking the question and forcing me to think about it.  Until I read his post I hadn’t really tried to quantify how I come up with titles.

If you have other guidelines for coming up with titles of your content and would like to share them I would love to hear them.

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